By Indonesia correspondent Samantha Hawley
Nine Australians who stripped at the Formula One in Malaysia at the weekend are free to leave the country after apologising.
The men pleaded guilty to a public nuisance charge, which carries a fine but no jail time. No conviction was recorded.
The group includes Thomas Whitworth, 28, Branden Stobbs, 29, Edward Leaney, 25, Nicolas Kelly, 27, Thomas Laslett, 28, James Paver, 27, Adam Pasfield, 25, Timothy Yates, 29 — the son of a senior diplomat — and Jack Walker, 26 — a staffer for Defence Industry Minister Christoper Pyne.
A letter was read in court apologising for their actions and expressing regret.
“We had no idea that our conduct would be deemed to be inappropriate, crass, or even downright offensive to the citizens of this country,” the letter read.
“The incident … was done in a moment of folly, and for that we are truly sorry that we have hurt the feelings of Malaysians in general.
“We too have similar fondness and respect to our own Australian national flag, but due to our cultural differences our display of respect and reverence of our national flag is perhaps quite different.”
Their defence relied heavily on the cultural differences and the good character of the accused.
Whitworth fainted during the proceeding.
The men were then given water and their handcuffs removed.
‘Budgie smuggling’ case gained international attention
The men stripped down to Malaysian-flag-printed swimwear — or “budgie smugglers” — after Australian Daniel Ricciardo won the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.
Some of them were also filmed drinking beer from their shoes, an act known as a “shoey”.
The nine spent four nights in two cells at the Sepang police station, near the Formula One race track where they were arrested on Sunday.
The prosecution had considered more serious charges relating to insulting the national emblem, but they were not pursued.